“I thought you were supposed to be dying with brain rot,” Stephen tells me yesterday. Alas, I had to disappoint him. When Ben and Abbie both called to inquire about when the wake would take place, the joke was already old. I’d had Mark talk about how to divide the estate after. “Have you made a will?” I can’t believe my friends, lover, and parents are just waiting for me to nod off for good.

They’re not getting my journals. Those things burn with me in the crematory. They’ll just have to order an extra sized coffin, and the pall bearers can mutter about how I must have put on a lot of weight before the end. If there is an afterlife, which I doubt of course, I will interrupt my slack-jawed surprise over that fact for a minute and snicker that it suits them right. “Respect for the dead, you cretins!”

More respect that they gave me while still breathing, at least, since they keep bringing up my death. I’m not going anywhere. I’ll live to be 590 just out of spite now. You watch me and see if I don’t.

***

I’ve sort of become used to making decisions on my own, and don’t even think about it, and then something happens to remind me that it’s all a bit of an illusion. I’ve been declared unfit for most everything, and should keep my broken carcass in bed for the duration, and that has some administrative side-effects that have shattered the illusion of being an independent agent in this life.

It is about providing evidence that I’m not off on a skiving binge. You’d think that after a year and a half the school would know me, but like in the Godfather film Auntie can growl “just when I thought I had got out, they pull me back in”. She has had to inject herself into my life and present the school authorities with the doctor’s notice about my convalescence.

So, it wasn’t enough for me to tell them I was off sick. Rules and regulations, m’lad, they said, and rang Auntie over my head, because until March 21st Auntie is my Guardian here in this country. I keep forgetting that in the little cocoon I live in. The illusion of independence is strong in this one, and for weeks at a time, I can almost forget that I’m not of age. Until I try to buy a drink in the pubs in this town of puritans and Dursley-clones.

While I do see Auntie every or nearly every day for a bit, now she’s been here twice or thrice daily. Most of those times, I’ve been sleeping though. I’ve never slept so much in my life these last few days. I’m usually not a heavy sleeper. I’ve never been. While I go to bed very late, and want to get up very late, I usually don’t need more than six or seven hours. But these last days, I’ve slept for like twelve hours, and then taken naps. It’s crazy.

***

Spinal taps are not fun. I’m not talking about the group now. Before doing it, I spent a lot of time worrying that it would hurt as hell, but it was more uncomfortable than painful. Yes, it did hurt a bit, but I’ve had worse stretching muscles while running. So, it turned out to be a case where my imagination ran away with me, and those sweaty moments telling myself to be brave, cool and stoic was so much wasted angst. The mental admonition to “be a man” was the usual machismo delusion in other word.

Since they didn’t seize me and slap me into isolation and put me on antibiotics, so I suppose I don’t have bacterial meningitis. Is that a good sign? I didn’t tell them about the other stuff, or they may have committed me to the psych ward instead.

When mum heard I may have meningitis, she was half-way out the door to board a plane to England before I got through to her that it wasn’t the killer disease she thought it was. I suppose that her reaction says that I do mean something to her. But I wish she would listen to what I actually say, and not jump to conclusions like that.

My mum. I do love her. If she wasn’t so annoying sometimes. Can I say that and still retain so machismo credibility? I mean, I’m not really a Mama’s boy, am I? I’ve never been. Although, I suppose in the weird constellation that is my family, I’ve always been closer to her than I’ve been to dad. Although with both of them, it’s been Zeus and Hera up on the mountain, taking an interest in the mere mortals down here.

I wonder why all the people in my family are like this. Distant. Except of course today Mum did start to voice a check-list about coming here. I’m too harsh on her though. I mean, there is Ellie, my sister, in her nightmares. I don’t suppose that she would have done anything else than seize on the meningitis bit, and not hear the viral bit. Maybe I am a spoilt brat that only think of myself in my own relationship orientation toward everyone, and don’t consider how I fit in with everyone else in that puzzle.

Mark’s parents came over too, to inspect the patient. I love them for that. They drove eighty miles or so just to check up on me. I think that Mark could have said that I was perfectly fine on the telephone, but they did come, and Mark and his dad got a chance to check on the beer kit that’s growing in the basement. It’s not entirely ready yet, they concluded.

***

I’ve slept for most of the day today and yesterday, and I don’t want to sleep any more, and me and Mark had this long talk about things last evening. Basically, Mark was doing two things. Mock me for my sometimes irrational behaviour the last few days, wondering about my will, and then at the same time telling me I’d scared him because of it. Like standing in the hallway at eleven on a Saturday morning barely able to stand up, insisting that I was perfectly fine, and that I had to go to school.

Well, to be fair, he scared the bejesus out of me with the asthma attack he had earlier. It made me think that maybe we actually mean a lot to each other. Do you know how you can have a conversation with someone and on the surface of it, the talk is silly, but at the root of it – it’s deadly serious? So many words unsaid, but so much meaning communicated anyway.

You have a surface layer of mocking and jokes, and you have an underground level of serious intent? You talk about the smell and the dimmed lighting and make jokes of that, and there’s a big elephant in the room that’s never mentioned.

That’s what this talk was like. Mark making jokes about my daft actions when I was in the thick of things. At the same time, telling me he was scared. Much like I was terrified when he had that asthma attack. So, I suppose he loves me, the big oaf. I love him too. He knows the secret of my heart; he has cooked for me, and he bought me Far Cry 3 out of his own earnings. I’ve spoken of that game before, and on Monday he bought it for me “so that I kept my hands on the cover” while convalescing.

But… It’s too hot and heavy to keep the 17 inch laptop in my lap in bed, so I’ve been sitting in the office. I love the game. It’s so over the top and sometimes so silly. Like, you have to kill and skin animals to improve your gear. But the requirements are insane, like… You need to kill two tigers and flay them just to get a new wallet so that you can carry more money.

But then again, the game is about insanity, and the game keeps asking the player “you really enjoy this carnage, don’t you? Why do you enjoy it? Hmmm?” So, the game is about the mounting violent insanity of a twenty-something slacker from California, and it is about why the player would enjoy what he is doing as that increasingly crazy mass-murderer.

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